Ethics Bowl champ offers advice on civil discourse

“The feedback that I get most often when I’m talking to people who have very different political ideologies is that they miss having civil conversations.

The professors at Santa Fe were the first that noticed me and took me under their wing to hone my writing and cultivate my philosophy skills. One of those professors, Ann Thebaut introduced me to Ethics Bowl. Last year we won the National Two-Year Bowl for two-year colleges, so we were the best community college team in the country. Ann is also the one who organized the Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership (ICDP) with five other institutions, Harvard University, Stanford University, California State University Bakersfield, Saint Phillips College and of course, Santa Fe College. There are eight or ten fellows from every institution. We all come together to learn how to facilitate productive discussions with people across the political spectrum and different political ideologies.

When having political discussions, it’s important not to make monolithic assumptions. If you know this person leans one way, don’t assume they’re like all other people of a similar political ideology. You’d be surprised how much people have in common. If you can begin with common ground, you eventually can get into really meaningful insights in a conversation.

In my experience, I’ve found most people generally care about the well-being of their community. Most people share a common set of beliefs and want to live a good life and to flourish as a human. If you can remember that it might help you to reframe conversations in different ways. If you’re having a really heated debate about this policy or that policy, remember that you’re having a conversation about the ways in which people want to improve their lives. If you reframe it like that, it’s a very different sentiment. It’s more humane than adversarial.”

– Gillan Chalono, SF student and ICDP fellow